Thursday, April 30, 2015

#TBT: The She Who Walks Behind The Rows Edition

For all of you sweet people who tell me I look oh-so chic with my verrrrry closely cropped 'do, please know that I thank you, I love you, but I am also in the middle of having flashbacks to 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Anticipating the awk is like waiting for a 3 year old to throw a baseball at you. You can't help but flinch.
I particularly enjoy the middle pic in which I resemble Malachai from Children of the Corn.
But, you know, it's cool. I'm cool. There are flat irons now. Papier Poudres. Products that don't necessarily contain "tiny reflective color crystals" like Pazazz Styling Mousse. I won't use Sun-In or wear turtlenecks, especially not folded over. I'm good. It's all good.
Can't wait.
(But yeah, my eyes are doing that involuntary fluttering shut flinch thing waiting for it to hit.)


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Double Crowned

Today I want to take Ozzy somewhere, anywhere, to a place where we can throw coins into a fountain. I want to hold my breath and drive him through the rainbow tunnel, look up at the sky at the first star together even though it is only 9 am. I want to wish and have it be heard.

Someone made the observation the other day that Ozzy and I have the same hairline at the nape of the neck, both of us curving to the left. Bryan says I have a category 3 hurricane forming at the top, a category 2 on the other side. He swirls his finger around the impending storms on my head when he passes me in the kitchen. Meanwhile the lady who cuts Ozzy's hair says that if I have another baby it will be a girl, something she can tell based on his double whorled cowlicks, an old wives tale if ever there was one. Moooo, Bryan says, pretending to lick Ozzy's hair. I don't tell the lady we are probably most certainly not having another baby.
Ozzy is having trouble with friends. The boys won't play with me, he says through lips wet with being almost 4. My heart shatters into a thousand splendid pieces. I tell him to ask nicely, to play with the girls, to maybe play whatever they are playing even if it is not a game he wants to play. Play a game you don't want to play? I repeat this in my head and hate myself for saying it, for not knowing how to fix anything.

When I was in Tel Aviv I researched everything about everything, and while talking to a professor in the waiting room about the role of alemtuzumab as a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD52 antigen of lymphocytes, he asked me if I was a nurse. No, I said, wondering why he wouldn't have assumed I was a doctor.

Because this is what I do when I don't know what to do, I Googled it. All of it. What to do when your child is shy. How to help him make friends. How to hold your breath and make a wish, because who hasn't felt invisible at one time or another? I wouldn't want to know somebody like that. There is a shared feeling to being alone, a monoclonal antibody made up of cells cloned by a parent cell. Of course Google has a vast opinion on what I should do, how I should talk to Ozzy. Google even tells me that having a double whorl in your hair is called a Double Crown, a symbol of genius to some, a promise of difficult haircuts and a future of bad hair days to others. I decided not to say anything more for now. Instead I held him tightly, his body a pleasing weight against my shoulder as he leaned against me smelling of shampoo and cereal. Today he took a robot to school for sharing. 


Friday, April 24, 2015


Dear Zoey,

9. 9?? No, seriously, 9?!?!!!!!! 

For 9 years now you have been filling the air with exclamation points, question marks, emoticons before they existed, things unsaid but always felt. (For 9 years and 9 months, actually, but ew, I know.) So 9 years.

9 years ago your dad and I left the house at 3am while the neighborhood slept silently, the stillness of the fog thick with everything that was about to happen. I remember driving across the city, how at a red light we stopped next to a truck blasting dance music, thumping the windows. How I turned to look at the young guy driving just as he turned to look at us. I couldn't help but think how different his night was than ours, how he might wake up the next morning and think about what had happened the night before, I don't know. Maybe his night was nothing. By the time we reached the hospital I was 8 cm dilated.


I had dinner with a friend of mine last night who said that turning 9 is momentous as it is halfway to a child leaving the house. I wanted to punch her for a second, because really? This is how it happens? So quickly at a dinner table over a beet salad and then you're gone, grown up. Do you want any pepper on that? No please.
God but you are beautiful. And more. I want to wrap myself around you and hold you always, hear you rattle on and on about Minecraft, read me blurbs from your graphic novels, secretly listen as you sing in your room. The truth is, I have been in a constant state of disbelief since you were born. I have a baby! I am in love! Her breath smells like warm bread! She can walk! Kick a ball! Spell exhale! How did I get so lucky? For 9 years now I have felt your own reverb as it thumped against the windows, watched as you moved through time and place, amazed at who you are and are becoming, the persistence of sound after a sound is produced. The reflections continue.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about what happened that night, that morning, to be exact. You were born at 10:52 am, the doctors pulling you from me with a tug. 9 years later and I still feel that tug, that pull, that something unsaid but always felt. 

It sounds like this.

With all the emoticons in the world.
I love you,

5 (missing)
1 (pre-blog)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Goal Is To Reach Intentional

I'd like to think I'm maybe 1/2" from that goal? From looking like I cut my hair into a super short pixie on purpose and am not actually post-chemo. So two months? Two months and I will look like I meant it. 
Mean it. 
Although I will say that yesterday I received my first compliment from someone who doesn't need to make me feel better. I was at West Elm when a stranger told me she loves my haircut. Thanks! I said, maybe a little too effusively. It's not actually a haircut. I had chemo. Well, it looks great, she said, and then followed me around the store telling me about how she used to live in Hawaii, some story about a man, a rainstorm; it had nothing to do with hair or west or elm, not even anything to do with trays, which is what I was buying. So perhaps she was not all there, but even halfway there, a sliver of there, a hint, a shade of thereness and I will take it. Took it. Thanked her a thousand times because I am almost there, too. A half an inch away and I will no longer be a walking reminder of how terrible things happen, but a story of how terrible things happen, and then something else happens after that. 

And then. Before she left I gave the woman a hug.


Monday, April 20, 2015


You know how I said I would be Instagramming my trip to Yosemite? Well I kind of forgot that living deliberately like Thoreau means that there is no wifi in the woods, i.e. as soon as we crested the hill out of nowhere and my phone came back to life, I felt rather left out that I had missed the news of Kim Richards' arrest for drunk and disorderly. 

But camping! To mix literary references, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was apparently time to play a giant game of chess amongst the trees. 
If you are planning a trip to Yosemite with your kids, I cannot recommend The Evergreen Lodge enough. But only if you have kids because the place is teeming with them. Happy, dirty, loud laughing kids playing in the teepees, the swimming pool, on the zip line, playing foosball, ping pong...every night there are s'mores around a campfire. But I am not being paid to endorse them, so let's move on.

The funny thing was that there were about 5 other families from our town there, all with kids. Their kids went to the other elementary school, so I didn't know these parents and my kids didn't know the kids, but it was an instant gang of kids playing together. Which was awesome.
I'm beating around the bush here. 
The trip was hard for me. Physically, and because of that, emotionally.
This is the only photo I have of all of us, so Ozzy's gonna have to take one for the team despite that awful face he's making.
See, I am not a camper per se. Or a hiker. But I want the ability to hike if I feel like it, and yeah, I felt like it in Yosemite but I couldn't really do it. Not for long anyway. I am realizing that the damage that MS did to my body is done. I hopefully-cross-my-fingers-please-please-please stopped the progression of the disease, but the existing damage is done, and that means I can't hike more than a few miles without my back completely seizing up.
On the last day, we decided to hike to this waterfall and swimming hole. I had a feeling it was too much, but I didn't want to disappoint the kids and Bryan who really wanted to go. So we went.
It was about 2 miles both ways, up and over scrambling rocks at some points. Halfway through, my back just gave out. I had to drop to my knees every hundred yards and rest. I was sweaty, panicky, pissed off, scared. When we finally got there, we saw that the other families from our town were there, too. Zoey and Ozzy were stoked, but I felt awful.
Now let me preface this by saying: these other moms were amazingly nice. But I did not feel amazingly nice. I felt amazingly dirty, sweaty--disabled, other. I was wearing jeans, a flannel and a beanie, but when we got to the swimming hole it was super hot. The other moms were wearing bikinis. One of them had done the whole hike with her baby strapped onto her chest, and I had just barely made it myself, dragging my feet and tripping. I was pissed. At Bryan for making me do the hike. At these other moms for their long ponytails. At myself for looking like a cross between Mr. Clean and the Brawny paper towel guy with my stupid flannel that doesn't look cute without hair. It just looks butch. I felt ugly, inside and out.
Me laying down on the hike. Because fuck this shit.
But this isn't just about vanity. It's about how I feel, and how I have to accept myself for who I am now. A woman with a military buzz who has limitations.

But before that realization, on the hike back, after we had let the other families hike in front without us under the guise that Ozzy takes a long time, my walking got even worse. And I cried. Snotty, sweaty, horrible tears of I can't do this. I could see the look on Zoey's face, how she was trying to look normal when everything was not, and that killed me. I hate myself for making my family worry. For not being able to hike to a damn waterfall without falling apart. 

But I did it. I fell apart and picked myself back up, probably about 30 times. I made it back to the car.

The kids fell asleep as soon as we got in the car. I just curled up and waited for my cell phone to get service again while Bryan drove the 4 hours home.

About an hour from home the kids woke up famished, so we stopped in the middle of nowhere in a strip mall to eat at a restaurant called BJ's. It was next door to a sporting goods store called Dick's. This brought great levity back to me and Bryan who had barely spoken for most of the car ride, especially when the kids kept saying how much they love BJ's. Stop saying that, guys! Why mom? What's so funny?

Life is funny, that's what, I wanted to say. Life is fucked up and funny and sometimes all it takes is a BJ in the middle of nowhere to sit your family down around a table to talk about how they had the best vacation ever. So even though I didn't, I did, if that makes any sense.
Atta' boy.
If any of it makes any sense at all.

Monday, April 13, 2015

To Drive Life Into A Corner: Spring Break

Despite the fact that I have always been more camp than camping, we are going to Yosemite for Spring Break. And by "camping," I mean we will be staying in a lodge because dirt and air-borne pathogens, plus dirt and dirt. But off we go! Yay camping!
Not sure if I am including this photo because I love my cute new dress, because Grumpy Cat is my spirit animal, or just that I am a total pussy when it comes to camping...probably all of the above. Anyway, I am going to confess something really cringe-y embarrassing right now, k?

I started following Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid on Instagram.

Seriously. Don't look at me! I am a 42 year old mom who subscribes to photos of 20 year old models because I, too, want to be wearing body jewelry at Coachella. Taut tanned skin! Long, beachy hair! My hair is almost a quarter of an inch now, by the way. Quarter of a goddamned inch.

Of course I am not going to Coachella because dirt + crowds + 42 ÷ by the square root of aw hell no. I am going camping. To the woods. To live deliberately, just like Thoreau who went to the woods because he wished to front only the essentials of life, and not, when he came to die, to discover that he had not lived. Plus there's that whole part about sucking out the marrow of life, which I've always read in the voice of Sir Anthony Hopkins à la Silence of the Lambs. I do love me some Thoreau. Also apparently photos of lithe young models more beautiful than I ever was 20 years ago, but that's only because Thoreau is not on Instagram.

But I am. So this week expect me to Instagram some pics of myself not wearing body jewelry but a decidedly sexless Patagonia fleece. And a smile.

Happy Spring Break to you & yours.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Things That Have Nothing To Do With Each Other (And 1 Thing That Does)

The first few weeks after I had Ozzy I binge watched Mob Wives while chained to my couch, breastfeeding. After the postpartum hormones wore off, I discovered Mad Men. I thought about that on Sunday as we watched the last of the Mad Men episodes. How right after my mom died we watched Nurse Jackie, something in there about nursing a connection, or pills...Breaking Bad saw us through moving from one house to the other, we watched Weeds even when we didn't want to anymore, how in the weeks leading up to me leaving for Israel we watched Friday Night Lights like it was our job, clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose, me so scared and mesmerized by Tim Riggins' hair. Binge watching these shows like a time stamp, how.

Yesterday, against my better judgment, I watched 3 hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, mostly because I am kurious about Bruce. But nothing was mentioned about him, so then I Googled Kim Kardashian's sex tape, 8 years after the fact, and wow. I must be getting old because it made me so very sad.

I judge the shit out of anyone who puts the extra 'e' in judgment. Then I feel bad for being judgey, because judgey is not even a real word and seems like it needs that 'e.'

There is a checker at the grocery store near my house who always comments on my food choices. I don't like his face. I would get uncomfortable every time I went to the store, anticipating what he might say about blueberries and bread, so I decided to try to imagine him as a little boy and me being his mom. I thought maybe it was cute how he comments on everything, and now I love him a little bit, if that makes sense.

I have been living out my childhood fantasy of playing library by volunteering in Zoey's school library once a week. Stamping books, sshhhing people, admiring selections, putting people to task for forgetting to turn books is everything I ever thought it would be. And more! The week after next I am volunteering at the Scholastic Book Fair. I am totally buying that kitten poster I always wanted as a kid.

Last week I bought Zoey and Ozzy new betta fish which they promptly named Plumeria and Firetuck. I will let you guess who named who. Though don't get too attached, as this morning Plumeria was found dead. They were in separate bowls, so Firetruck had nothing to do with Plumeria's early demise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Bad Scheisse Club

This morning I woke up thinking about Teresa Guidice. I worry about her, you know, only 3 months into her 15 month sentence. Thank the sweet baby Jesus and strangely enough, I see that she is on this week's cover of Us Weekly, so hopefully I will feel better after reading that. We will all feel better.
Teresa and I are in a club together now. And just the other day I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in maybe 6 years; she is in the club, too. It's a sucky club. A fucked up club, The Club of People Who Have Gone Through Some Bad Shit (Bad Shit Club for short). Our club cheer is a keening of sorts that can either sound like crying or laughing, depending on the day.

There is something calming, though, about talking to a fellow club member. You don't have to dodge well-intentioned looks of pity or stupid questions. Instead you look each other in the eye, shrug your shoulders and say things directly. There is the shared understanding that life is a total asshole sometimes, something that you may think you know but you can never fully know until Bad Shit happens (and even then I have a sense that I still don't really know, please god, spit over my shoulder twice).

I don't mean to sound elitest about this. I envy those not in the club. And for the most part I don't mind stupid questions or pity, so long as they are well-intentioned. Although the other day I was at the mall and there was a lady who would not stop staring at me. I very much wanted to walk over to her calmly, place one hand on her arm and say quietly, tag, you're it. I'm not going to tell you what, I'm not going to tell you when. But you're next... 

But I didn't, of course, because that would have been mean/evil and probably against club rules.

Instead I went home and gardened. And by "garden" I mean I planted succulents in a container on my deck high up where no animals could have been in the soil because air-borne pathogens et al. Even then I wore gloves and a mask because I am not supposed to garden for a year. This is what gardening looks like now, although not pictured: the guilt and fear I have for gardening at all when I am not supposed to, I do love me some rules...
Dead ringer for Susan Powter, no?
I am also not supposed to swim for a year, not in pools or the ocean, or play in the sand. It's going to be one long, hot dry summer, let me tell you. This is what going to the beach looks like now, taken this past weekend, though truth be told this is probably what going to the beach should have always looked like, i.e. the sun damage on my chest, oy.
All this to say that I do still worry about Teresa. She's still in it, the clink, yeah, but more than that, in it. And I am out. Ish. For the most part free, though with restrictions to gardening, swimming, no mani/pedis for a year, no sushi, no raw anything, no probiotics, no, no, no. Despite all those Amy Winehouse nos, more and more my club cheer is one of laughter. Dark, maniacal, sometimes, but still. Laughter.

Keep going, Tre. You'll get there.
Off to buy my Us Weekly.